2015 was a disappointing season for many within the Buccaneers organization, none more so thanMike Evans
. Evans was upset with himself for his play and is ready to step up in ’16.
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear to be putting as much of 2015 in their rearview mirror as possible. Mike Evans, on the other hand, is learning from it. In what was a statistically satisfying season for him, 74 catches and 1,206 yards, Evans saw his touchdowns dwindle from twelve his rookie season to three in 2015. He was also maddeningly inconsistent with an astounding eleven “official” drops, accounting for 7.4% of his targets.
I mean, I had some decent games, but it was a disappointing season on my end, for sure. Even though I improved in some categories, it was a disappointment.
Now, anyone who watched Evans last season knows he could’ve been credited with almost double that, so saying he only had eleven drops was pretty generous. Especially considering he was credited with six of those eleven in the game against the New York Giants. That game gave Evans the distinction of having the most dropped passes in a game in over a decade. But it’s time for all that to change.
Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune had the chance to speak with Evans about his sophomore season and what lies ahead for him in 2016;
"“People would say I had a sophomore slump last year. I guess that’s fair. People can say what they want. I increased some of my numbers, but I wasn’t as consistent.”"
Evans would continue,
"“If you’ve seen me throughout my career, I play with an attitude. I play with fire. I play with passion. But there’s a difference between being passionate and being dumb or being hotheaded. I mean, I had some decent games, but it was a disappointing season on my end, for sure. Even though I improved in some categories, it was a disappointment.”Jan 3, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) runs after making a catch during the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Buccaneers 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports"
Evans has the opportunity to completely silence and shut down his critics, myself included. I said numerous times last season that he needed to cut down on the crying to the refs and focus on doing his job. Evans has made himself a marked man by officials by constantly crying for calls and in return, he is often hit with offensive pass interference penalties.
That being said, Evans and Winston have gone to great lengths to work on their chemistry, because both of them understand how crucial that is going forward. They want to be one of, if not the, best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the NFL. The only way they get there is through work. Both are willing to do it, but it needs to be seen on the field.
I like Evans. I think he is an extremely talented receiver and athlete and could potentially be one of the best receivers to come out of arguably the best receiver draft classes in recent history. However, he needs to focus on what he can control. So, to Mike Evans, I will say simply this:
Don’t worry about flags. If you quit looking for them, they might start to show up. Instead, use that 6’5″, 230-pound frame and abuse corners the way you can. Take the ball from them and make plays for this team. Your idol Randy Moss did a lot of that. You can, and need, to as well. If you want to be considered elite, you have to earn that recognition and title. You have the talent. Let’s see it on Sundays.